It had to happen. Marketing has progressed so far beyond irony that there is no longer a word for it. An air freshener manufacturer is selling 'green fresh fragrances inspired by open windows.'
So you can now sit in your hermetically sealed, double glazed home (in accordance with new building regs), and rely on an electrically operated gadget to pump out regular doses of chemically generated 'open windows, newly mown grass and morning breeze.'
Sounds lovely, doesn't it?
Contains citronellol and bourgeonal. May cause sensitization by skin contact. Harmful to aquatic organisms, may cause long-term adverse effects in the aquatic environment. Avoid contact with skin. If swallowed, seek medical advice immediately and show this container or label. Wear suitable gloves. Spillage of the liquid might cause damage to surfaces. People suffering from perfume sensitivity should be cautious when using this product. Air fresheners do not replace good hygiene practices.'
Neither do they replace chemical-free air - unfortunately something of a rare commodity these days. From the florist Demetrius observed spraying perfume on her wares to the youngsters strutting about town in a suffocating miasma of spray-on 'fragrance', the chemical-mongers are everywhere among us.
And so is childhood asthma, affecting an estimated 1.1 million children in the UK. Concerned parents may well check NHS Choices, to be told that common triggers for attacks in susceptible children 'include house dust mites, animal fur, pollen, tobacco smoke, cold air and chest infections.'
So you take your fags outside, wrap up warm and don't let the cat sit on the baby. No mention of three different combinations of chemicals electrically pumped into the air every 45 minutes, in rotation 'so you always notice them'. Perhaps they mention it further on:
'Environmental factors that may trigger asthma include exposure to air pollutants, such as cigarette smoke, and certain substances that can cause allergic reactions (allergens) such as pollen and animal fur.'
That would be a 'no' then. And even when other suspects are brought in later - fungi, aspirin and sulphites - the nearest it gets is 'chemical fumes', which hardly suggests that parents might want to open a window instead of resorting to air freshener - a misnomer so blatant it almost passes unnoticed.
4 hours ago